After a year of uncertainty about what would happen with the School of Virtue and its possessions, the statue of Our Lady of Virtues was transferred to Ibiza where Francisco Palau together with his friends and collaborators began the construction of a chapel dedicated to her. Government of Spain submitted to public sale the goods of religious societies. Palau couldn’t bear that Mary would be hidden because of those who were not capable of accepting her teachings and the virtues she represents. That’s why now she is living in a place of the simple people who do know how to serve her with their whole heart. Also Palau put himself completely at the service of Our Lady of Virtue. Wherever She will desire to go, be it in solitude, be it in the great cities, he will follow her as her most humble servant.
As we approach the Holy Week, as we prepare to celebrate the Palm Sunday, I can’t help to compare this situation to the triumphant entrance of Jesus to Jerusalem. He enter as a king, but the city wasn’t redy to accept Him nor His teachings. And there were many who followed Him in time of glory and success, but so few who accompanied Him in the moments of suffering, sorrow, death. Today I wish to be able to repeat after Francisco Palau: Where my teacher is, there I will be, ready to follow wherever he goes. May I also know to follow Jesus, the head of the Church, wherever he goes: be it in lockdown of pandemic, be it in frenetic work, be it in simple housework for my sisters, be it among the poor who are in need even more than before.
Es Cubells (Ibiza), June 4, 1855
My dear Sirs: I would like to bring to your attention the decision that I had taken in relation to the destruction of the School, of which I must not hide to whoever believes and are interested in the matter. I speak of the Virgin of Virtues.
Where is it? Here is the answer. After three years of worship and services offered by her beloved sons and disciples, it is not good to raise her and let her sit on the altar in the midst of a city that disputed and attacked her banner. Since she does not have her own altar, living in tents like the Israelites in the desert, having neither tabernacle nor temple, she escaped and crossed the sea, and took refuge among these large rocks. Here at her orders an altar and chapel was raised where she receives prayers, canticles, worship and services of the islanders who pay her homage and respect, even though they do not know her name, at least are incapable of attacking her School. At her orders they have opened the foundations of a church with the title of her name. She will no longer be hidden and enclosed in the cabinet. The school mistress had followed the banner of the School, her glory, the candelabra, and everything that served her post. This has been the prelude of the terrible evil that will come to this city. Barcelona is not worthy that Mary will come to it under the title of the virtues, and to establish her tabernacle, her temple and her altar at the centre. Her short stay was a vision, a dream, nothing more than an apparition. Mary was seen in Barcelona with all the pride of a School, she was listened to as a teacher and proclaimed as the queen of all virtues by those who were her sons and pupils, and she disappeared like the shadow. If Barcelona had erected an altar and temple for her, it could not have been intoxicated by the chalice of wrath that was prepared from afar.
This is a fact that speaks much and says nothing. Will she return? I do not know. She is isolated among the large rocks, she lives in solitude and honored by her devotees, the fishermen, the peasants and the uneducated. Where my teacher is, there I will be, ready to follow wherever she goes. The civilized world does not want her, had expelled her, and she has isolated herself with the fishermen of the Mediterranean coast, or better to the neck of land in the middle of the ocean. Will she return? I do not know, I have not asked her, but if the world wants to listen to the lessons about virtue and vice, if God in his mercy thinks that the world is worthy to have the School established and her banner raised, in this case she will run away, leave her solitude and I will follow her making myself the standardbearer of her school.
This, my most amiable classmates, is going to afflict you. I know that you love virtue as I do, that you search and you ask for it, that you shout aloud, come back, teacher, come back we invoke you. But if the absence of that Lady embitter the heart, rejoice at least to know she still lives, rejoice to hear news about her, rejoice to know that she is honored with public worship in the altar, chapel or her own church, rejoice to know that she still exist. I will not leave her, and if she wants to go back, I will not withhold her but to follow her as pupil of her School. They are taking or have taken the inventory of everything that was in Santa Teresa. I have foreseen this and taking precaution in time, I brought everything to these islands.
As you know all the goods of the confraternities are on sale and consequently what remains of the School are in danger of being inventoried. Take precautions. I should have taken the boards of the platforms and the two ladders that could serve to climb the Virgin’s shrine in the new chapel that we will construct. You know better what could be done. I do not do more than to suggest this.
Nothing more. Do not forget your affectionate y.s.s.
Francisco Palau, Priest